Shortcuts—Feist’s The Reminder

By Dmitri Leybman

Feist’s reputation has up until now largely rested on 2004’s Let It Die, a short 11-track disc that introduced audiences to the singer’s soft and luxurious voice. That album’s eclectic set of songs reflected Feist’s many influences from jazz, bossa-nova, folk, and indie rock. Her popularity also grew when “Mushaboom,” one of the album’s best tracks, was incorporated into a Lacoste perfume ad, introducing her to an even wider audience. The Reminder, Feist’s newest album, contains many beautiful, aching ballads enhanced by her evocative delivery. Many of the tracks are pure gems, glimmering with subtle artistic touches conveyed by her voice and the accompanying production.

The Reminder’s prevailing mood is largely of sadness. The tracks are ballads of loss and despair, regret and love.

The simple melodies carrying the songs do their jobs well. They interest the listener, but it’s Feist’s phrasing and voice that help sustain the album on repeated listening. Feist’s talent lies in her delicate approach to each song, word by word, line by line. On “One Two Three Four,” she sings about teenage hopes, so distant from the present: “One, two, three, four/ Tell me that you love me more/ Sleepless long nights/ That is what my youth was for.” As she sings these lines, her voice is lighthearted and slightly amused, but empathetic. The key in listening to her music is to pay attention to the way she enunciates those delicate vowels to imbue the lyrics with personal urgency and emotional attachment. In “So Sorry,” accentuating those syllables is an attempt to prolong the inevitable break-up that underlines the song: “We don’t/ need to say goodbye/ We don’t need to fight and cry/ Oh we, we could hold each other tight tonight.”

The Reminder will likely push Feist further along the path of stardom. Part of the reason for this is her voice, which sounds intimate without alienating the wider music market. Her music now sounds, if not better, then more accessible. This wonderful, endearing album is a worthy sophomore effort from a unique singer. Audiences discovering her for the first time will be introduced to an exceptionally talented singer who is only beginning to show us what she can do.